Guerrero Negro Mexico
Guerrero Negro is a tiny town in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur with a population of about 13,000 inhabitants. The town is mainly known for the place to find spectacular views of the Gray Whale and for the salt mine that gave birth to the town in 1957... and, of course, as a must stop for gassing up on the long drive north.
During the months of January thru March visitors can view the Gray Whale at Guerrero Negro’s Laguna Ojo de Liebra, commonly referred to as Scammon’s Lagoon.
Here the whales begin arriving in January from the icy waters of the Bering Sea and the Alaskan coast to breed and give birth. Navigation is controlled in the lagoon to protect the whales and it is a natural reserve. The whale watching is a very popular attraction, so to ensure you don’t miss out on this spectacular event, it’s advised that you make advance reservations. In March, these amazing mammals begin making their 3,000 mile journey back to their “summer homes”.
Bonus features on your whale excursion include views of other marine animals, such as a variety of sea turtles, the elephant seal, the vitulina seal, and the sea lion for which Scammon’s Lagoon is a natural sanctuary.
If you are visiting the area in the first part of February, don’t miss the annual “Arrival of the Whale Festival”! The nearby port of San Blas hosts a similar celebration at the end of February.
Scammon’s Lagoon is the most important aspect of Guerrero Negro’s identity in a number of ways. Of course, the tourist attractions here are a critical factor in the city’s economy, but this famous lagoon is also home to Guerrero Negro’s other important economic resource, its commercial salt mine.
Salt Exporters, Inc., located in the Scammon’s Lagoon, is owned by the government of Mexico and the Mitsubishi Corporation and is considered the greatest salt mine in the world. It produces millions of tons of salt per year, which is then exported across the world.
Visit the salt mine to see some of the world’s biggest salt water evaporation ponds and the great mounds of salt that are ready for shipment. The salt is loaded into huge trucks, transported to the coast, and then shipped 70 miles off-shore on a barge to Isla Cedros. From the island, the salt is packed onto ocean-going freighters, which transports the salt to the rest of the world.
The Lagoon is also part of the important Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. During a trip or tour to the biosphere you will see a variety of wildlife, such as the pronghorn antelope and the bighorn sheep, over 200 indigenous bird species, and the enormous, towering cardon cactus.
The Lagoon is also the location of the city’s legendary history in whaling ventures. Guerrero Negro translates to "Black Warrior” in English, and it was given this name after a U.S. whaling ship from Duxbury, Massachusetts grounded near the coast in the 1850s. During this same era Captain Charles Melville Scammon discovered a bountiful Gray Whale calving lagoon, which soon became prime whale-hunting ground for American and European whalers, who were interested in selling whale oil.
Guerrero Negro’s city planners have recently acted on plans to “renew” the city’s appearance and have installed new curbs and sidewalks. And the main square has been adorned with pretty palm trees. If you are a gringo traveling Highway One, Guerrero Negro is a good “pit stop” to gas up at a Pemex station, get a bite to eat, get a good night’s sleep, and chat with other gringos who are returning from the south of Mexico or going there.
Of course, if you are there during the great Gray Whale migrating season, you know what else you can do!